In the first episode on the language of acne, I explained that blemishes refer to current acne outbreaks and that papules, pustules, and cysts, are “inflammatory” blemishes. The other category of blemishes is “non inflammatory”, so they don’t have any redness, pus, pain or crusting. They're just flat or raised, clogged pores.
Technically they’re called “comedones”, and there are 2 types: “open comedones” and “closed comedones”. And open comedones are also called blackheads. It's simply a flat dark colored clog. Closed “comedones” are tiny, white dome shaped bumps on the skin with no visible opening to the outside. These Closed “comedones” are also called “whiteheads” or milia, and in fact they actually are tiny little cysts
After inflammatory blemishes heal, they can leave flat marks which are either pink or brown. The pink marks ALWAYS go away without treatment, but can take months. They represent the body”s well intentioned but over-done attempt to heal the original blemish. The brown stains are a reaction by the skin to the injury from the blemish, just the way a brown mark on your skin after a cooking burn is a response to the injury of the burn. But brown stains from blemishes may linger for months or years and some don’t go away without treatment.
Last, scars, by definition, are always permanent. They‘re the results of deeper damage done by the blemish.. or sometimes damage done by you to the skin. They’re usually from cysts but sometimes they’re the result of your squeezing or trying to “pop” pimples or cysts. And by the way, the non inflammatory comedones rarely ever cause a scar.
So the next time you read or hear about acne, you’ll understand just what they’re talking about, and that way you’ll also have an even better idea of how to treat it.